Page:British Flowering Plants.djvu/43

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
27
RANUNCULACEÆ

or less "butter-coloured." In the country a bigger child will often hold a buttercup under the chin of a smaller one to see, by the yellow reflection, whether the little one "is fond of butter."

The white Water Crowfoots, found in shallow pools and slowly running or standing water, are not acrid.

Comparatively few insects feed on Buttercups; but some small beetles, about a quarter of an inch in length, may sometimes be found in the flowers. One of these, Prasocuris marginella, is black, with the thorax and wing-cases bordered outside with dull orange; another, Cryptocephalus sericeus, is of a bright golden green. Besides these, the larvae of various small saw-flies and two-winged flies mine in the substance of the leaves.

The Marsh Marigold (Caltha palustris) grows commonly in marshy places in large clusters, and has large leaves and bright orange flowers, resem- bling those of a gigantic buttercup, and composed of 5 sepals, the petals being obsolete. The Globe-flower (Trollius europceus) is yellow, with from 10 to 15 broad yellow sepals converging inwards, and forming a kind of globe nearly concealing the rest of the flower. It is common in mountainous districts both in Britain and on the Continent.

Monkshood—Aconitum Napellus

(Plate IV)

This is a tall, erect plant, 2 or 3 feet high, with slender, deeply cut leaves, and large purplish blue flowers, composed of 5 sepals; the petals are rudimentary. It is sometimes called "helmet-flower," from the shape of the upper sepal; and also "wolf's-bane," having formerly been used by hunters to poison wolves. It is one of the most poisonous of all our native plants. With us it is more of a garden than a wild plant; but on the Continent it is very abundant in many mountainous districts, though not found everywhere. It is a dangerous plant in a garden, for after the plant has died down the fleshy roots have sometimes been mistaken for horse-radish, and have been eaten with fatal results.

Nevertheless, several insects feed on this plant,